Why do people engage in breakup sex?
What is the mysterious force that draws them back to one another at the moment they decide to take apart? Is it all about the passionate sex, or is there something more?
A recent study analyzing the psychology of breakup sex explored the motivation behind post-breakup sexual activity. Experts from Bucknell University and Tulane University discovered a total of 52 reasons behind the desire for sexual intercourse shortly before or shortly after a breakup.
So, why do people have breakup sex?
While surveying 92 US heterosexual adults aged between 18 and 34, the researchers found out that statements like “sex is fun” and “curiosity” were amongst the top reasons for engaging in breakup sex.
Here is the full list of 52 reasons why people have sex while breaking up:
1. Sex is fun
2. Miss sex
3. Want to get back together
4. You miss them/miss each other
6. Still have feelings
7. Knows what the other likes
9. Still in love
11. You’re comfortable with the ex
12. Sexual tension
13. Show them what they are going to be missing
14. Can’t move on
15. Final goodbye
18. To feel better/sadness/fill emotional void
19. Try to get over the person
20. Don’t want to add to body count
22. It is easy
23. Have sex for the last time
24. Broke up for reasons other than feelings
25. See if there are still feelings
26. Because you can
28. Regret the breakup
29. View them sexually/physical relationship now
31. Needy/satisfy needs
32. Get back on the market
34. To take back power in situation
36. To tell people that you did
37. Didn’t mutually end relationship
38. Needs attention
39. Other people do it
40. No STD risk
42. Think they are your best option
43. Opportunity came up
44. Feel connection again
45. Feel love
47. Forget about breaking up
48. Afraid to seek out new relationship
49. Confusion about breakup
50. Better than before
51. They act like they miss you
52. No idea
In the process of examining the results, the psychologists divided the answers into three categories: relationship maintenance, hedonistic, and ambivalent feelings. The relationship maintenance factor describes the emotional aspect of having breakup sex and the need for ex-partners. Hedonistic motivations is the category referring to the physical nature of having breakup sex. And last but not least, the ambivalent feelings represent conflicting feelings and contradictory views of engaging in breakup sex.
Do men and women have similar motives when it comes to engaging in breakup sex?
As psychologist Mark Travers notes, there were significant gender differences in the answers given by the participants in the survey. While the physical nature of the act was common for both men and women, it was men who prioritized the hedonistic aspect. The researchers explain:
“Men rated items pertaining to hedonism higher than women did. This is consistent with previous research suggesting that cross-culturally, men tend to place higher priority on hedonistic-type values relative to women.”
What is more, men also showed higher motivation regarding the ambivalent feelings category.
How does breakup sex make people feel?
The team of scientists also analyzed whether breakup sex made people feel better about their ex-partner and their ex-relationship. The gender difference was a major factor throughout this part of the research as well. According to the findings, “women tend to report that they feel worse after engaging in breakup sex.”
However, women reported feeling better about their relationships with their former partners after the sexual intercourse. Travers suggests that this could be explained with the theory that breakup sex encouraged relationship maintenance or offered closure. Supporting the results of the study, the experts state:
“Although men and women rate enjoying sex equally, sexual strategies theory and parental investment perspectives suggest that engaging in breakup sex for purely hedonistic reasons may be more costly for women than men.”
What do you think of the psychological aspect of the act of engaging in breakup sex? Have you ever had breakup sex? Share your experience with us in the comment section!